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Nigerian Oil Workers Strike over Fuel Prices

Despite the dramatic action taken by the union, exported oil production in Nigeria has not been seriously affected.

Government leaders in Nigeria, Africa’s largest fuel producer, are meeting with management members of the PENGASSAN union of the Department of Petroleum Resources to discuss terms of the strike.

“Between now and 12 midnight, we will withdraw our members from all DPR locations, including oil export terminals,” Mohammed Saidu, branch chairman of the PENGASSAN union of the DPR told Reuters.

Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua, who took office three weeks ago, inherited turmoil over the oil industry from his predecessor, Olusegun Obasanjo, who increased fuel prices, doubled value-added tax and privatized two oil refineries just before leaving office on May 29.

Yar’Adua, whose elections were tainted by reportedly massive voting fraud, has already made several concessions to the union, including reversing the tax increase and adding a public sector pay raise, but he has yet to negotiate a fuel price.

Because of a tanker driver strike that began five days ago, the country is left largely without fuel, and schools, banks and government offices have been unable to open.

Members of the union are hoping such stalls across the country will encourage the government to meet their terms.

“If we affect production, that will bring maximum pressure on the government,” PENGASSAN President Peter Esele told Reuters.

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